Be prepared: For anything from technology failing to overwhelming demand. Most universities have a staff rota to man the Clearing hotlines, but few can call in extra staff out of hours and particularly at the weekends for the hotline, social media monitoring or Open Days.
Students as ambassadors: Feature their stories in publicity, wheel them out at Open Days, get them blogging or recruit them to man your hotline, live chat and social media accounts; students can be your greatest asset during Clearing. Choose them carefully and brief them properly.
Check out your competitors: Forewarned is forearmed. It's worth noting hotline opening times, social media activity, website content, press releases and advertising messaging, but even better if you can send a mystery shopper to a Clearing Open Day to pick up on any best practice.
Proof everything repeatedly: Have a fresh pair of eyes look over advertising, print and web content for spelling mistakes and grammar. Check to ensure web links, emails and phone numbers are correct, in good working order and with someone on hand to answer them.
Stand out in the crowd: Whether you opt for bright colours, bold headlines, clever copy, unusual imagery or eye-catching illustrations, you need to do something different to set you apart. You also need to persuade people to choose your university, so give them a valid reason and avoid 'fluff'.
Respond to change: The availability of places changes rapidly; your website needs to reflect this, particularly when courses close. Get updates about courses struggling, then use social media, digital advertising or the media to shout about achievements, success stories and student experience.
Plan the next steps: Don't forget that acceptance is just the beginning; the jubilation at securing a university place will soon be overshadowed by anxieties. Why haven’t I received confirmation? Where will I live? How do I enrol? When do I start? What’s my timetable? Having dozens of staff on the hotline is great, but you also need to allocate confirmation, joining instructions and accommodation within reasonable timescales too.
Two magic words: Clearing is hard work. It takes months of unseen planning and preparation, then hours of non-stop work in frantic and stressful conditions from dedicated academics, marketing, admissions and accommodation staff. Remember to give credit where credit is due.